Lawmakers propose 3.2 percent pay raise for feds in 2018

A month into 2017 and some lawmakers are thinking about next year’s pay raise for federal employees.

The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act, which Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) reintroduced Tuesday, would give federal employees a 3.2 percent pay raise in 2018 — a 2 percent pay increase plus a locality pay adjustment of 1.2 percent in 2018.

 

There has been no word yet from President Donald Trump about a pay adjustment for federal employees in 2018. Typically, the president includes a directive on a pay adjustment, if any, for federal workers in his annual budget request.

Connolly introduced similar legislation under the same name in previous years. His 2016 legislation proposed a pay raise of 5.3 percent, and the 2015 bill proposed a 3.8 percent raise. Neither piece of legislation went far. Last year’s bill had about 80 cosponsors, all of them Democrats.

A spokesman for Connolly said the congressman wanted to introduce the bill as soon as possible, “given unprecedented attacks on federal workers this Congress.”

The National Treasury Employees Union endorsed the bill. Its national president, Tony Reardon, said the legislation “recognizes that federal workers are critical to our country and should be paid fairly.”

Former President Barack Obama signed off on a last-minute 2.1 percent pay raise for most civilian and military employees for 2017, which superseded the original order he signed that called for a 1.6 percent raise for most federal workers.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also endorsed the legislation, praising Schatz for reintroducing the Senate companion.

“Sen. Schatz understands that federal workers have been forced to weather an economic downturn, a three-year pay freeze, unpaid furloughs, and a hiring freeze,” AFGE National President J. David Cox said in a statement.

AFGE said it will make the push for a higher pay raise for federal employees for 2018. The union supported the FAIR Act last year and made its own case for a 5.3 percent raise.

Cox said in December that he was in talks with Democrats and Republicans in Congress on a new piece of legislation for a 2018 pay raise for federal employees. The percentage would be higher than the projected pay raise set under the annual pay schedule adjustment formula in Title 5.

“For too long Republicans have bullied our federal workforce, falsely painting the civil servant as the scapegoat for all our country’s problems,” Connolly said. “They’ve endured shutdowns and furloughs, attacks on pay and benefits and an across-the-board hiring freeze. Their hard work was questioned. Now, thanks to the Armageddon Rule, even individual positions could be on the chopping block.”

The “Armageddon Rule” is a reference to the Holman Rule, which the House included in its rules package for the 115th Congress.

It reinstates a little-known provision that allows lawmakers to bring an amendment on an appropriations bill to the House floor that may “retrench” agency spending, reduce the number of federal employees in a particular agency or cut the salary or “compensation of any person paid out of the Treasury of the United States.”

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